As the caregiver of a husband with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and a son with PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), I urge you to read this article. Make the effort to understand why we’re tired all the time, why we’re not at all the social events because we’re needed at home, and why we put up walls to protect our sanity. We struggle every day and need an understanding, supportive community. Many times we try to connect, but finding a safe place for ourselves and our loved one is tough so we give up. Honestly, we don’t have the energy to initiate the thing we need the most: friendship and community.
We’re tired of being misunderstood. We’re tired of seeing our loved one being triggered then having the situation glossed over or blamed on them because no one took the time to find out more about their life and their struggle. It’s not that people should be afraid of our loved one or feel that they need to walk on eggshells because that’s not the case. Compassion, understanding, and empathy allow the PTSD sufferer to let their guard down and feel safe. Once they feel unsafe with you, it’s almost impossible for them to trust you again. And for this reason, we will fight tooth-and-nail to protect them!
If you know someone with PTSD and/or TBI, take the time to find out what that means and how they struggle. Step outside of yourself and look at the world through their eyes. My vets want life to be the way it was before PTSD, but life will never be that way again. PTSD is real and its effects are devastating. They’re not making it up. It’s not a crutch. They can’t just “get over it”. They’re not weak or broken or any less worthy of your love.
If you know a caregiver, realize that they are struggling to live with the “new normal” and, often don’t have the mental energy to be the one to reach out to others. We grieve our old life…we worry about the possibility that the hopelessness our loved ones feel may cause them to take drastic steps to end the pain (18 vets with PTSD commit suicide EVERY DAY)…we spend each day taking care of every aspect of family life from home maintenance to managing the finances to cooking and cleaning…and your community is filled with PTSD/TBI sufferers and their families.
In a small town, there aren’t any support groups or services for those with PTSD and their caregivers. The church has an opportunity to really make a difference in our lives but sadly, that isn’t happening. It’s not an easy task, but I believe it is what Jesus would do. Many times churches invest all their energy and time on evangelism, which is important, but fail to see the hurting people right in front of them. A lot of churches begin the new year with fasting and prayer. They’re asking God to give them direction and vision for the future. Maybe it’s already there just waiting for you to open your eyes and do something. Maybe you’re on the verge of walking past the wounded warrior as you travel the road to Jericho. Maybe it’s time to take the parable of the Good Samaritan seriously…
As the article says, “We need you to help create a welcoming church environment where veterans, military and PTSD survivors can feel at home. Encourage church attendees to learn more about the basics of PTSD. This veteran’s wife speaks for many: “We need people to reach out to them and not be afraid. My husband isn’t a mean or bad person… he’s just experienced horrible things. We’re trying to live as normally as the next family, but normal for us is different now.”